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hieroglyphic

[hahy-er-uh-glif-ik, hahy-ruh-] /ˌhaɪ ər əˈglɪf ɪk, ˌhaɪ rə-/
adjective
1.
Also, hieroglyphical. designating or pertaining to a pictographic script, particularly that of the ancient Egyptians, in which many of the symbols are conventionalized, recognizable pictures of the things represented.
2.
inscribed with hieroglyphic symbols.
3.
hard to decipher; hard to read.
noun
4.
Also, hieroglyph. a hieroglyphic symbol.
5.
Usually, hieroglyphics. hieroglyphic writing.
6.
a figure or symbol with a hidden meaning.
7.
hieroglyphics, handwriting, figures, characters, code, etc., difficult to decipher:
the confusing hieroglyphics of advanced mathematics.
Origin
1575-1585
1575-85; < Late Latin hieroglyphicus < Greek hieroglyphikós pertaining to sacred writing. See hiero-, glyphic
Related forms
hieroglyphically, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for hieroglyphics
  • They are learning to decipher the hieroglyphics of their ancestors -- a vast legacy left on stone, bark paper, and ceramic.
  • Egyptians included in their hieroglyphics a symbol for the electric catfish of the Nile.
  • He did not go to college, but learned Egyptian hieroglyphics and five languages as a teenager.
  • The mantel is topped by a triangular slab decorated with hieroglyphics, a scarab, winged figures.
  • He went down a narrow staircase to an underground tomb, where hieroglyphics covered the walls.
  • And unlike the picture symbols of ancient hieroglyphics, they do not usually resemble objects either.
  • While hieroglyphics is commonly used, it is discouraged by egyptologists.
British Dictionary definitions for hieroglyphics

hieroglyphics

/ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪks/
noun (functioning as singular or pl)
1.
a form of writing, esp as used in ancient Egypt, in which pictures or symbols are used to represent objects, concepts, or sounds
2.
difficult or undecipherable writing

hieroglyphic

/ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪk/
adjective
1.
of or relating to a form of writing using picture symbols, esp as used in ancient Egypt
2.
written with hieroglyphic symbols
3.
difficult to read or decipher
noun
4.
a picture or symbol representing an object, concept, or sound
5.
a symbol or picture that is difficult to read or decipher
Derived Forms
hieroglyphically, adverb
hieroglyphist (ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪst; ˌhaɪəˈrɒɡ-) noun
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin hieroglyphicus, from Greek hierogluphikos, from hiero- + gluphē carving, from gluphein to carve
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hieroglyphics
n.

1580s, from Greek ta hieroglyphika; see hieroglyphic + -ics.

hieroglyphic

1580s (adj. and n.), from Late Latin hieroglyphicus, from Greek hieroglyphikos "hieroglyphic; of Egyptian writing," from hieros "sacred" (see ire) + glyphe "carving," from glyphein "to carve" (see glyph). Plutarch began the custom of using the adjective (ta hieroglyphika) as a noun.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hieroglyphics in Culture
hieroglyphics [(heye-uhr-uh-glif-iks, heye-ruh-glif-iks)]

A system of writing with pictures that represent words or sounds. The ancient Egyptians wrote with hieroglyphics. (See Rosetta stone.)

Note: Present-day writing that is hard to decipher or understand is sometimes jokingly called “hieroglyphics.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Word Value for hieroglyphics

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